They’ll try you wherever they like


The Russian Supreme Court has declared it lawful to investigate the “Khodorkovsky case” in Chita. It revoked the rulings reported here by lower courts. New criminal proceedings against former head of YUKOS Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, who are serving sentences thousands of miles away from Moscow over charges of tax evasion which are widely believed to be politically motivated.

Moscow’s Basmanny Court on 20 March this year declared it unlawful to hold the pre-trial investigation into the new criminal charges in Chita. The court thus accepted the argument of the men’s lawyers that the investigation had to be carried out in Moscow where the activities the men are charged with allegedly took place. The court ruling stated that transferring the criminal investigation to Chita was a violation of the constitutional right to defence (Chita is very far away, and access for lawyers, etc is limited).  This ruling was later upheld by the Moscow City Court, which thus rejected a cassation appeal by the Prosecutor.  The latter, undaunted it would appear, went on to lodge a “nadzornoye predstavlenye” [a Prosecutor’s appeal over a ruling which has already come into force] .with the Supreme Court.

According to one of Platon Lebedev’s lawyers, the Supreme Court has now called for nadzorniye proceedings to be initiated and for the presidium of the Moscow City Court to review the Prosecutor’s appeal again.  Another lawyer stated that the Moscow City Court’s presidium was scheduled to consider the question of whether it was legal to hold the new investigation in Chita on 13 September.

There is no information given as to why the Supreme Court gave this legally surprising ruling. As reported, the original claim brought by one of the defence lawyers had argued for the case being held in Moscow on the basis of Article 152 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code which states that “pre-trial investigations shall be carried out according to where the actions were committed”. The Basmanny Court in March agreed with this.

Based on a report posted at: Политзеки.Ру  (the name of the site, incidentally, is the word for political prisoners]

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